Teaching English in South Africa

“Smiley children and supportive staff make this 14 day trip as a volunteer English teacher as rewarding as it is fun.”


Teach English to disadvantaged children | schools in Knysna in the Western Cape | conversational English only | chance to progress from assisting in lessons to teaching alone | option to teach sports, drama, arts and music too | accommodation and food included

Description of Teaching English in South Africa

This teaching English in South Africa volunteering project is based in the lovely coastal town of Knysna. You will be teaching disadvantaged children there, initially assisting the teacher but eventually leading classes on your own, if you feel confident to do so. There are typically between 15 and 40 students in each class.

The emphasis of this 14 day project is on helping students to speak English – there’s no need to be an expert in grammar and literature to volunteer, although you need to be comfortable standing up in front of the class. Sometimes, you might be asked to help out with other subjects, but this is optional. If you’d like to teach other subjects, including sports, drama, arts and music, that’s possible, too.

Volunteer teaching is very fulfilling and it’s not unusual for volunteers to be in tears when their time to leave comes around! We work with a handful of schools in Knysna, all on the Garden Route of the beautiful Western Cape. Many children from the poorer township communities come to these schools. Our volunteer teaching programme has been running here for many years in this region, and it’s had a huge and beneficial impact on the local community.

Resources are often scarce in these schools, but standards are generally very high. Any lack of materials or facilities is more than made up for by the enthusiasm of students and the staff. You will be warmly welcomed by the wonderfully enthusiastic and energetic children who seem to never stop smiling!

Your placement will start with assisting teachers but, as you may progress to having sole responsibility for a class or group. The staff and teachers at the schools will give you plenty of support and help, but it’s always good to just ask if you need something and be prepared to use your initiative.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Departure information

Teaching placements are available throughout the year during term time.
2008 terms run 16 Jan - 20 Mar, 14 Apr - 27 Jun, 14 Jul - 26 Sep, 6 Oct - 05 Dec
Holiday type

Volunteer travel - what's it all about

Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, or on a gap year or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you! Volunteers tend to have a sense of adventure, and come from a range of different backgrounds and from all over the world.
Edward Abbey said 'sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul'.

Responsible tourism

Teaching English in South Africa

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


Information on how to leave minimal negative impact on the environment is given to each volunteer prior to their departure as part of their documentation. This is also highlighted in the volunteer’s induction on arrival. Group travel is promoted wherever possible.

As this project is located in the township, volunteers are transported in our own minibus as a group, thus lessening the impact of pollution by individuals having to do multiple trips. Regarding recreational transport, almost everything is wthin walking distance in Knysna. However, where transport must be used, we always encourage and recommended the use of public transport and all nearby public transport routes are shown to all new arrivals. If taxis are required, you will be encouraged to share with other volunteers in order to lessen the impact of pollution wherever possible.

Having regard for the local community by being consciously aware of your impact is encouraged in all our documentation for all our projects in all our destination countries. This is because we feel very strongly that many countries are subject to, for example, water shortages, high cost of energy and high impact of energy usage, the negative impact of litter and general pollution. Thus we encourage our volunteers to be aware of these possible impacts so that they contribute positively and not negatively to the community in this respect.

We are also passionate about mutually beneficial interaction with the local community. We've been working in this local community for nearly 20 years, so our interaction for all local institutions and businesses is very extensive. Our South Africa Manager sits on the boards of various organisations (like our Street Kids project, for example) and is regularly acknowledged for her efforts on behalf of Travellers to improving the local community.

You'll be encouraged to take part in some of our extracurricular efforts to help the community in projects that will improve their environment. So you could be involved in things like helping to clean the area, or educating the residents in good environmental practices.


We provide our volunteers with many tips on how to be a responsible traveller regarding the environmental impact they have.

We want you to be immersed in the culture, by living and working with local people. We work with local communities, local charities, local government bodies and local schools. We also often partner with local organisations whom we have vetted to ensure that they are committed to the projects they run, that they have the same responsible attitude to the local community that we do, that they are eco-friendly and have ethical policies.

In our projects and in our headquarters offices, we take an environmentally responsible attitude towards recycling and reusing of waste products. Our volunteers are given pre-departure Information that encourages them to minimise waste and reduce their use of water and electricity, in other words, to live sensitively in the environment that they’re working in.

Travellers also give donations as and when required by projects. This is often done through our charitable arm, The Bridge The Gap Foundation.

Our projects enable vital conservation, research, care and education work to take place directly where it is most needed. For example, we kept a Species Survival Conservation project in South Africa afloat until completion after it was threatened by lack of funds. Our volunteers contribute, all over the world, to projects that would not exist without them.


Sustainable and ongoing development of local communities is always the primary aim of our volunteer projects and this project is no different. You’ll take up where others left off and you’ll be involved in the continued personal development of the children through a variety of different sports, a volunteer medium that helps teach a multitude of skills such as team skills, social interaction, fair play, competitiveness, keeping healthy and just good old fashion fun!

Social Responsibility:
The information we provide prepares our volunteers for their placement and how to deal with the local people. It also briefs our volunteers on the Do’s and Don’ts and ensures that they are aware of the possible impact of their behaviour.

Cultural sensitivity:
Volunteers receive an induction and orientation on arrival which covers things like being sensitive to the culture you’re in, everyday processes which will be different to what you’re accustomed to, how to have the maximum beneficial imprint and the minimum negative impact.

We stress the importance of responsible tourism, cultural differences and acceptable/unacceptable conduct. Where appropriate, volunteers are briefed on local customs, particularly those that are different to the volunteer’s accepted norm.

Economic Responsibility
For 25 years our volunteers have lived in local communities, spent their money with local traders and brought funding to the projects they work with. Travellers employs local staff and works with local support staff. This helps to fund the project directly and through bringing money into the local community.

The organisations we work with are often struggle to financially support and maintain the work they do, so every penny raised makes a real difference.
Our aim is to create always a Win-Win-Win situation in terms of the benefits for, (a) the local communities and institutions you work in, (b) our Volunteers, i.e. you, and (c) for Travellers. We do not embark on any project that is not beneficial to all three of these stakeholders.

Before our Volunteers depart on their projects, we provide them with comprehensive information about their project and country:
(1) A detailed Programme Guide to Volunteering which we’ve produced in-house.
(2) A detailed Country Factfile,
(3) A detailed Project Description Booklet specific to their Project.
(4) Safety Book: This book is produced by Travellers and has common-sense but necessary general safety tips while travelling, as well as safety advice relevant to your specific destination country.

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